Two-Minute Miracles Pump Out the Volumes

Two-Minute Miracles Pump Out the Volumes
Charting Andy Magoffin's evolution as studio engineer and producer to Can rock's stars of tomorrow is as simple as listening to the three-CD catalogue of his London, ON-based band, the Two-Minute Miracles. The latest instalment, Volume III: The Silence of Animals dropped last month on Teenage USA, pretty much picks up where its 2001 predecessor, Volume II, left off, with a deja vu-inspiring instrumental opener of layered, brassy fanfare. From that point on, however, things take a decidedly progressive turn for the polished.

"It sounds a little cleaner when it needs to be clean, and a little bit rougher when it needs to be ruff," says Magoffin, his tone reflecting the sort of confidence born only of creative experience. "I'm getting better at what I do."

In the context of the Miracles, that entails penning catchy, richly melodic pop tunes occasionally run through with a sinuous, alt-country flavour and an underlying element of playful eccentricity. As commander in chief of his House of Miracles studio, though, Magoffin has made a habit of producing breakthrough recordings for bands like the Constantines, Royal City and the Hidden Cameras, all of which have landed international recording deals at least partially on the merits of their Magoffin-engineered recordings.

Though modest to a fault when it comes to taking any credit for those successes, Magoffin has been more than pleased to take on the increasing volume of studio work that has come his way as a result.

"That's the best calling card, to have been associated with those albums that have done well," says Magoffin. "I mean, they haven't necessarily done well financially — yet anyways — but they've been critical successes, which is good, because I still have the right people calling me. People who are concerned with making good music and not people who are concerned with making the next smash."

Of late, that quantity of quality projects has included full-length recordings for the likes of Guelph singer/songwriter and budding pop genius Jim Guthrie, Thunder Bay-via-London R&B revivalists the Parkas and Toronto twang-bient combo Jonasson, along with a motion picture score under the musical direction of Constantines guitarist/vocalist Bry Webb. As busy as he's been, Magoffin says he still hasn't had to turn away any new customers.

"I don't think I'm at a point where I can afford to yet," he says, adding his rates remain well on the cheap side of most Southern Ontario standards. "The studio business isn't lucrative enough to be able to be choosey at the level I'm at, so I'm taking all comers."

Given his crowded dance card, the fact Magoffin was able to assemble the latest Miracles full-length over the past year or so is almost miraculous itself, especially when you consider nearly four years transpired between the band's first two volumes. Magoffin cites the readiness of material (most of the tracks on Volume III had been part of the Miracles songbook for over a year) and the preparedness of the House of Miracles for expediting the process this time around. That said, Volume III could hardly be considered a rush job. Rather, the album rings with a deliberate sonic sense that threatens to belie the Miracles' impetuous, artfully chaotic tendencies of yore.

"We took things pretty serious as far as the structure of songs," says Magoffin, citing the stepped-up compositional efforts of Miracles keyboardist Michael Christoff as a major contributing factor. "He's from the legit school of music where everything can be notated and structured mathematically, so he had his way with a lot of the songs more thoroughly. It's much more an album as a whole this time around."